By Bernie Wilson, AP
SAN DIEGO, California–San Diego has made the short list of venues being considered to host the 35th America’s Cup in 2017, port commission chairman Bob Nelson said Friday.
“It’s an honor for the San Diego region to be shortlisted for the 35th Defense of the America’s Cup and the chance to showcase San Diego Bay on a worldwide scale,” Nelson said in a statement released to The Associated Press. “San Diego Bay is a dynamic, top-ranked venue that has much to offer a competition of this scale.”
If San Diego is chosen, racing would be in 62-foot catamarans on the bay. San Diego hosted the America’s Cup in 1988, 1992 and 1995, with racing on the Pacific Ocean.
An America’s Cup World Series regatta in 45-foot catamarans was held on San Diego Bay in November 2011.
America’s Cup officials have cut the list of potential venues in half, but it wasn’t clear Friday how many cities besides San Diego remain in contention to host sailing’s marquee regatta. The venue is expected to be decided by late summer.
Chicago is believed to be a strong candidate and Newport, Rhode ISland, another former home of the America’s Cup, is thought to remain in the mix. Long Beach, California, has been eliminated, and Hawaii’s chances of hosting the Auld Mug could be fading.
A spokeswoman in San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee’s office said talks continue with America’s Cup officials to keep the regatta there.
San Francisco Bay provided a stunning backdrop for the 34th America’s Cup in September, when Oracle Team USA, owned by software billionaire Larry Ellison, staged one of the greatest comebacks in sports to beat Emirates Team New Zealand.
However, America’s Cup officials are unhappy that San Francisco officials are not offering the same terms as last year, including free rent for piers as well as police, fire and other services. Cup officials also are opposed to paying the equivalent of union wages for construction work.
America’s Cup officials are believed to be intrigued by Chicago. Neither side has commented due to confidentiality agreements, but it’s believed that avid sailor Donald Wilson, who founded DRW Trading Group in Chicago in 1992, has a hand in the Windy City’s bid. Wilson also founded the Chicago Match Race Center.